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J.D.B. News Letter

July 26, 1928
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

(By our London Correspondent)

The History of the Zionist movment, the historic anttitude of the Jews towards Palestine and a concise description of the circumstances under which the Balfour Declaration was issued, are an inteersting feture in the report of the Jewish Agency Commission.

The historical introduction, which precedes the Commissioners’ report, the Findings of Fact and the recommendations and conclusions declares in its first paragraph:

“Ever since the destruction of the Temple, Jews have hoped and prayed for their return to Palestine. The character of the Jews, as evidenced by their liturgy; their literature and their philosophy, was largely shaped under the influence of this ideal, which, in a sense, was the mainspring of much of their creative effort, and their mainstay throughout the dark ages of their history. Palestine became for the Jews more than a mere country; it became a symbol of regeneration, of a return to the days of youthful vigor, to health bodily and spiritual. The Jew, when thinking of Palestine, always invested it with a special halo.”

The story of the negotiations leading up to the issuance of the Balfour Declaration, is described in the historical introduction as follows:

“Prior to 1914 the activities of the Zionist Organization in Palestine were carried on through the agency of the Zionist Palestine Office at Jaffa, which was responsible for the foundation, in 1908, of the first Zionist settlement, with means provided by the Jewish National Fund. By 1914 the number of Zionist settlements had increased to five out of a total of 43 Jewish agricultural colonies, with a total population of 13,000. Palestine was engulfed in the whirpool of the world war before there had been any opportunity of carrying out the more ambitious programme of constructive work adopted by the Eleventh Zionist Congress in 1913. For four years colonization work in Palestine was at a standstill, and as the war went on, many of the Jewish settlers were driven from their homes.

“A number of the Jewish refugees in Egypt enlisted in the British Army, and the first Jewish miltiary unit was formed under the command of Colonel J. H. Patterson, D. S. O. It was named the “Zion Mule Corps,” and it performed transport duties in Gallipoli. Out of this unit there arose later the 38th and 39th Battalions of the Royal Fusiliers (Judaeans), in which Jews from all the Allied countries enlisted. A third Battalion, the 40th Royal Fusiliers, was formed in Palestine from Palestinian Jews who enlisted in the British Army as soon as the Turks were driven out of Southern Palestine. These three Battalions served in Palestine under Lord Allenby.

“No constructive work could be attempted until the restoration of order under the Military Administration which followed the British occupation, and the establishment of a Civil Administration under Sir Herbert Samule, in 1920. But if Jewish colonization was necessarily suspended, the Zionist movement did not for that reason become dormant. On the contrary, Zionism steadily gained momentum, more particularly in Great Britain and the United States. As a result of the war, the international machinery of the Zionist Organization became unworkable. When the war began, there were no members of the Zionist Executive in England. In these circumstances, Dr. Weizmann, then at Manchester University, took the initiative in raising the question of the future of Palestine and Zionism with the British Government. It was a question which had been receiving intermittent, but sympathetic, consideration in English official quarters for many years–witness the offer (rejected by the Third Zionist Congress) of land in Uganda for a Jewish settlement under British auspices, and the discussions which took place in 1902 with regard to the possibility of a Jewish settlement in Sinai, a project which had been not unfavorably viewed by the British authorities in Egypt.

“A number of British statesman and public men were from the outset sympathetically disposed. First and foremost among these must be mentioned Lord Balfour whom Dr. Weizmann had interested in Zionism as far back as 1910, and who at once realised the bearing of the Zionist movement on the solution of the problems which were likely to arise in Palestine as a result of Turkey’s entry into the war. Another British statesman whose name was destined to be closely associated with the development of the Jewish National Home in Palestine was Sir Herbert Samuel whose submission of a memorandum on this subject to the Cabinet early in 1915 is referred to in Lord Oxford’s recently published diaries.

“But in dealing with Palestine there were other claims than those of the Zionists to be considered, and the matter was not one in which Great Britain was free to act alone. Apart from religious questions connected with the Holy Places, with which France, Italy and Russia were all more closely concerned than Great Britain. France had political and economic interests in Palestine, where she had a traditional claim to a special position. The future of Palestine played an important part in the negotiations between the Allied Powers with regard to the future of the Turkish dominions in Asia in the Spring of 1916. Among the results of these negotiations was an agreement–commonly known as the “Sykes-Picot Agreement”–between Great Britain and France, by which Palestine was to be placed at the close of the war under an international administration, in which it was plainly assumed that France would play an important part. But as the situation developed, it came to be realized that the Jewish claim was deserving of serious consideration, and that the Sykes-Picot Agreement could not be regarded as the last word on the subject of the future of Palestine. In February, 1917, Sir Mark Sykes, who had represented Great Britain in the negotiations leading up to the Agreement which bears his name, entered into close relations with Dr. Weizmann, Mr. Sokolow, and their associates. This was the starting-point of an exchange of views between the Zionist Organization and the British Government, which continued for a number of months and culminated on November 2nd, 1917, in the declaration.

“The Balfour Declaration was no mere gesture of war-time expediency. It was a considered act of policy. Nor was it made until the British Government, had assured itself of the concurrence of its associates in the war.”

Special services will be arranged on Thursday, July 26, in summer camps conducted by Jewish Centers and in their own buildings, in observance of Tishah B’Ab, which marked the anniversary of the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. In tion of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. In this connection the Jewish Welfare Board has made available a set of twenty questions and answers on the significance and observance of the day.

A Jewish art museum in Chicago–the first of its kind in the world–is the goal of a campaign now being made by the Jewish Museum Association of Chicago. The association’s first public demonstration will be an exhibition early in the fall of Jewish art material it has already collected. By this and other means it is hoped to arouse enough interest in the project to raise funds for the acquisition of other material and to provide housing for the whole collection. The exhibition will most probably be held at the Jewish People’s Institute.

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